Wednesday, March 6, 2013

We need to talk about kill fees

Now here’s a topic that never fails to get our hearts racing and our collective book-designer feathers ruffled. Just the name is enough to make the most thick-skinned of our kind, a tad miffed.

There seems to be a general rule of thumb that if a designer doesn’t come up with the goods after a minimum of two attempts, they can be paid off with one of these little mongrels. The torture-me-slowly-fee is often a measily $200.

This first stage of designing a book cover, is often the most arduous and creative in the whole dang, beautiful process. To get to the stage when a designer is ready to submit their first concepts requires hours of manuscript reading, hours or more typically, days of picture researching and several days of flat-out designing. We may have bought props to photograph. We may have done a canvas or two. We may have gone to an exhibition for inspiration or pawed through our reference library. We may have hand-drawn some new type. It’s a rare job that goes smoothly without at least some of this lead-up.

I absolutely believe in the publishers' right to be able to 'kill off' a designer after a time if things are just not working, if they’ve simply been unable to answer the brief – assuming they’ve been given a brief in the first place. But I think this low kill fee is simply too low. Kill fee, schmill fee.


Harper Collins need a book designer

Head of Design at Harper Collins, Matt Stanton, has asked me to post this job vacancy in Sydney.

HarperCollins Publishers: Book Designer

The HarperCollins Design Studio is looking for a full-time book designer. This is an exciting opportunity for an experienced designer to join the in-house team, bringing their unique design flare to a diverse range of titles, and furthering the studio's goal to lead in innovative and commercial book design.

To be effective in this role you will have a minimum of 3 years full-time experience in book design, preferably in-house, an impressive and diverse portfolio, high-level skills in Adobe CS5/6 packages, excellent organisational skills, time management skills and the ability to work to meet demanding deadlines. To be considered for this great opportunity, please send your portfolio, resume and covering letter to, stating your salary expectations and why you are interested in applying for this role.

Location: Sydney
Closing Date for Application: 20.3.2013